This report was first published in the October 23, 1998 issue of Executive Intelligence Review, and was re-released in May 2002 as part of a special dossier, Ariel Sharon: Profile of an Unrepentant War Criminal.
Sharon Appointment in Israel Makes
by Joseph Brewda
Death of Oslo Accords Official
With his Oct. 9 announcement that he has named Israel's top war-monger, Gen. Ariel Sharon, as Foreign Minister, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made official his intent to dump even the pretense of seeking peace, and to push a new Mideast war crisis over the coming months.
Sharon played the main role with Netanyahu in inciting the 1995 murder of the Israeli architect of the 1993 Oslo Accords, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, in order to prevent their implementation. Sharon was also the acknowledged architect of Netanyahu's election in 1996, in a campaign against the accords and against Mideast peace. Once in office, Netanyahu established a new super-ministry specifically for Sharon, the Ministry of Infrastructure, which Sharon has used to fund private Jewish settler armies on the West Bankthe same settlers who had provided the patsie hit-man to murder Rabin.
But with Netanyahu's appointment of Sharon as Foreign Minister, Sharon has now emerged as the regime's top foreign policy spokesman, and its primary negotiator with the Clinton administration. Netanyahu has also made clear that his stonewalling tactics will be supplemented by even more aggressive provocations against the Palestinians, designed to spill over into war. Such a war, or even armed clashes with Palestinians, would constitute the death of Oslowhich has been Sharon's and Netanyahu's commitment since the accord was signed.
The danger that Israel may soon go to war has nothing to do with the Mideast per se, but reflects British policy to use a Mideast crisis to overwhelm the powers of the U.S. Presidency, to forestall the emergence of a New Bretton Woods system in the midst of the global financial crisis. It is no coincidence that Sharon was named to the post within a couple of hours of the U.S. Congress voting to impanel a full impeachment investigation of Clinton.
Sharon lost no time in making clear that the Israeli government will stiffen its confrontational stance with the embattled Clinton administration. In his first statement as Foreign Minister to the Israeli press on Oct. 9, Sharon announced his continuing opposition to even an outrageously inadequate 13% Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank that Netanyahu reportedly agreed to at a New York summit with Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat and U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, at the end of September. He also said that he intends to see to it that Arafat, whom he terms a "murderer," honors "his commitments to the Oslo Accords in full." For Sharon, and Netanyahu, this means compliance with vague and impossible demands that can never be fulfilled; for example, that Arafat "stop Palestinian terrorism."
Like clockwork, a Palestinian undergoing psychiatric care stabbed an Israeli soldier to death on Oct. 9, just hours after Sharon's appointment, providing the needed pretext. On Oct. 13, a blustering Netanyahu announced that there was "no chance" of his signing an interim deal with Arafat authorizing the 13% withdrawal, since the murder showed that the Palestinian Authority is not fighting terrorism.
That Sharon's appointment means a collapse of even a public Israeli commitment to the Oslo Accords, was immediately clear to the Palestinians and sane Israelis. Speaking of the appointment that day, Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said, "Netanyahu is telling the world he is cancelling the final-status stage [of the accords], and that he chose the way of no peace and of bloodshed." Similarly, a commentary in the Israeli daily Ha'aretz emphasized, "Everyone who remembers the horror of Lebanon, everyone who remembers Sharon as the living barrier to the peace process and as a proponent of Jordan rather than the West Bank as the Palestinian homeland, everyone who witnessed his raptures over West Bank settlements, will find the appointment difficult to digest."
Here, we focus on two aspects of Sharon's not-so-glorious career, which show why his appointment means the Netanyahu regime is committed to a showdown with the Palestinians. First, his personal commitment from the 1967 war through his appointment as Defense Minister in 1982, to consolidate an Israeli policy to make the newly occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip "Arab free." Sharon oversaw the creation of a settlers movement during those years. He also served as the front-man for U.S. and British interests that were buying up that land for the same purpose. Second, is the role Sharon played in mobilizing the settlers movement against the 1993 Oslo Accords, in preparation for Rabin's murder in 1995, to prevent the threat of Mideast peace from ever breaking out.
Ensuring Jewish 'Lebensraum'
Ever since Israel seized East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, Gen. Ariel Sharon has been the main public advocate of expelling some 1.6 million Palestinians from these lands into Jordan and Egyptto make them Arab-free. The techniques favored from the beginning were Israeli state terrorism, government land annexations, private Israeli land purchases, and the settlement of the new lands by Jewish militias (the "settlers movement") intent on expelling the Muslims on religious grounds.
While this policy was sold as the fulfillment of the old Zionist dream, its real purpose, as steered from London, was to ensure that Israel's seizure of the territories could not easily be reversed, thus fostering continuing conflict and wars in the region for decades to come. Sharon made his political career implementing this policy.
Immediately following the 1967 war, Sharon, then a general in the Israel Defense Force (IDF), was the first to deploy armed Jewish civilians into the West Bank on the pretext of creating a "defense perimeter." By this means, he laid the basis for what became the settlers movement.
In 1972, Sharon and his sidekicks Yehezkel Sahar, the former Police Minister, and Gen. Rehavam Zeevi, today the leader of the Netanyahu ruling coalition's Moledet party, successfully lobbied the Israeli government to partially lift a ban on the purchase of West Bank land by Israelis.
In 1973, Sharon left the military and entered politics, to organize on behalf of this expansionist policy. He was convinced to do so by his longtime patron, Meshulam Riklis, then the U.S.-based owner of Rapid American Corp. Riklis was a front-man for Burton Joseph, a Minneapolis grain merchant and vice-chairman of the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith (ADL), and Kenneth Bialkin, a top Wall Street lawyer and ADL national chairman.
In December 1973, Sharon was elected to the Knesset (Parliament), through the aid and funding of such patrons.
After Menachem Begin's Likud bloc came into power in 1977, the policy of "Judaizing" the Occupied Territories dramatically accelerated. Prime Minister Begin's appointment of Sharon as Minister of Agriculture in September 1977 was crucial, because the ministry oversaw aid to all agricultural settlements, including those of the settlers movement on the West Bank.
Expanding these settlements was Sharon's main concern: At the end of his first month in office, he publicly declared that he had already begun authorizing new settlements on the West Bank. As of 1976, there were only 3,000 Jews in the West Bank (outside of East Jerusalem), despite Sharon's earlier efforts before he entered government. During his tenure as Agriculture Minister (1977-81), these settlements grew rapidly. By 1981, some 25,000 Jews had settled there under Ministry of Agriculture patronage. By 1986, more than 60,000 had settled there; today, including East Jerusalem, there are more than 150,000.
Most of the new settlers were members of lunatic cults which proliferated following the 1967 war. These included the Gush Emunim and the U.S.-formed Jewish Defense League/Kach Party of Rabbi Meir Kahane, both committed to driving out the Arabs from the territories, and the Ateret Cohanim, which was committed to destroying the Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, to rebuild Solomon's Temple in its place. From their inception, these sects were funded by Sharon and Netanyahu's U.S. backers, such as Irving Moskowitz (who later bankrolled Netanyahu's 1996 election), and were managed by Sharon's allies within Israeli intelligence. For example, Ateret Cohanim was run by Sharon's allies within Shin Bet.
During this same period, Sharon's longtime aide, Rafi Eytan, was made Prime Minister Begin's "Adviser on the Warfare against Terror." From that post, Eytan oversaw terrorist operations against Palestinians, in part through arming, training, and funding the settlers movement.
In 1979, the Israeli high court made a major contribution to their efforts, ruling that individual Israelis could buy West Bank land without needing special exemptions. It was only a small matter for Sharon's backers in New York and the City of London to find Israeli front-men for their speculation. As a result, New York and London were given the ability to drastically alter the demography of the territories, independently of what any Israeli government might decide to do.
In 1980, Sharon launched an international propaganda campaign, and toured the United States and Europe, to promote such private land purchases.
In 1981, the Israeli high court also ruled that the Israeli government could declare vacant or uncultivated acreage in the territories state property. Within four years, half of the West Bank and Gaza had been seized.
The Harlech and Kissinger land grab
In 1982, Sharon was named Defense Minister, setting the stage for making a killing in the real estate marketby killing Arabs. To that end, Lord Harlech (David Ormsby-Gore), one of Britain's top Israeli handlers, and former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, put together an international consortium in 1982 to buy up the West Bank. Their motive was not merely money, however; it was also geopolitical.
According to Harlech's plan, Jewish and Arab proxies would be used to purchase large blocs of real estate on behalf of the group. Vast numbers of Soviet Jews, which the group was already planning to ship off to Israel, were projected to settle there. The Arabs living there were to be stampeded across the Jordan River into Jordan, in what was known in Zionist lingo as the "Transfer." The demography of the territories was to have been permanently transformed.
Driving out the Palestinians, of course, required violence, and this is where Sharon came in. To pave the way for the transfer, Defense Minister Sharon held a number of meetings at his farm, attended by the Prime Minister's Adviser on the Warfare against Terror, Rafi Eytan; Gen. Rehavam Ze'evi, Eytan's predecessor in that post; and Sharon's money-bags, Meshulam Riklis.
In the aftermath of these meetings, Sharon's crazies stepped up their provocations, including a new round of beatings, killings, and renewed attempted bombings of the Al Aqsa mosque. It was thought that desecrations of Muslim holy sites would rapidly create a spiraling pattern of violence, and give the Israeli Army the pretext to drive the Palestinian population of the West Bank into Jordan en masse.
Sharon's policy of using supposedly civilian "settlers" to butcher Arabs was nothing new. The policy goes back to at least 1953, when Gen. Moshe Dayan ordered the formation of a secret unit in the Israeli Army, "Unit 101," charged with covertly conducting massacres of Palestinians under Jewish civilian cover. Sharon was placed in command.
In October 1953, Sharon led a group into the West Bank, then part of Jordan, and killed 66 people in the village of Qibya. The massacre was supposedly in "reprisal" for the shooting of two Israeli Jews a few days before. UN military observers investigating the scene of the incident two hours later, described it this way: "Bullet-ridden bodies near doorways and multiple bullet hits on the doors of the demolished homes indicated that the inhabitants had been forced to remain inside until their homes were blown up over them."
Other raids soon followed. In February 1955, the unit killed 22 Egyptian soldiers in the Gaza Strip, and in August, it killed another 39 civilians there, in the village of Khan Yunis. In October 1956, two months before the Anglo-French-Israeli invasion of Egypt, Sharon's group murdered 83 civilians in the Jordanian West Bank town of Qalqilya.
Sharon's unit was later incorporated into the IDF paratroop corps, after a decade of massacres, all of which, as in his subsequent massacres up to this day, were attributed to Jewish civilians acting on their own.
Mobilizing against Oslo
Sharon's foreign-sponsored policy of building the settlers movement to ensure that the Occupied Territories would forever remain part of "Greater Israel," had its critics. Throughout the 1980s, some Labor Party officials, most notably former Prime Minister Shimon Peres, put forward an alternative Israeli strategy based on Mideast peace. In their view, giving up the Occupied Territories was a small price to pay for such peace, especially as it would also pave the way for the economic development of the entire region.
The failure of the Israeli military to put down the Intifada, the Palestinian resistance movement to Israeli rule which began in 1987, also eventually won over former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin to this perspective. Rabin, who was the founder of the Israeli military, had come to realize that military means per se could not be a guarantor of Israel's existence.
For Rabin, this also meant giving up the Occupied Territories, disbanding Sharon's Jewish settlements, and acknowledging the creation of a Palestinian state. In 1992, the Labor Party returned to power with Rabin as Prime Minister and Peres as Foreign Minister, with this policy as the government's top commitment. The Oslo peace accords between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization of August 1993 were the result.
For their part, the British, and their co-thinkers in the United States, considered the accords a casus belli, because they threatened to bring peace to the region, thus ending their geopolitical games. Consequently, they went into a full mobilization against them. One feature of their mobilization was to unleash Sharon's crazies to block the accords through bloodbaths and murder, including that of Prime Minister Rabin.
The first reaction to the accords by Sharon and Netanyahu's Likud bloc in Israel was low-key. The party as a whole was waiting for orders from abroad, and these were not long in coming. In early September, Likud bloc chairman Benjamin Netanyahu publicly charged Foreign Minister Peres with high treason. On Sept. 9, Peres rejoined that Netanyahu was acting on behalf of U.S. financiers.
Kissinger was the first prominent non-Israeli to denounce the accords, telling CBS News on Sept. 11 that they were unworkable, and chided Arabs and Israelis alike for being "euphoric." Two weeks later, Kissinger addressed the London office of the ADL, the Institute for Jewish Affairs, and predicted that an Islamic fundamentalist takeover of Jordan would prevent the accords' implementation.
Then, on Oct. 11, some 800 people attended the first international conference opposed to the accords, organized in suburban Washington by Sharon's longtime cronies Bertram and Herbert Zweibon. Back in 1968, the Zweibons, and Brooklyn ADL head Bernard Deutsch, founded Rabbi Meir Kahane's Jewish Defense League (JDL), the group that was to play an important role in preparing the climate for Rabin's murder.
On Oct. 16, Sharon picked up on the theme, and began publicly calling for settlers to resist the Israeli government.
Then, on Nov. 14, Sharon began a lengthy tour of the United States to mobilize against the accords, the first Israeli politician to do so. In his keynote speech to a New York conference called against the accords, he raved that "the only barrier we have right now to a Palestinian state is the settlers. It is the 150,000 settlers that Rabin said he cannot defend who are really defending Jerusalem." Sharon was accompanied on his tour by Yechial Leiter, a leader of the JDL and of the settlers movement.
Preparing Rabin's assassination
One of the main reasons for his U.S. trip, Sharon told his U.S. audiences, was to raise funds for the JDL cult settlement of Kiryat Arba, just outside of Hebron, the major Palestinian West Bank city. Sharon said that the settlement was necessary to protect Jewish holy sites in that city, in particular the Cave of the Patriarchs, revered by, and prayed at, by Jews and Muslims alike. He said it was on the front lines.
Sharon's campaign bore fruit. On Feb. 25, 1994, four months later, Benjamin (alias Baruch) Goldstein, a JDL official originally from Brooklyn, entered the mosque at the Cave of the Patriarchs during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, and killed 50 worshippers. Goldstein had been manager of Rabbi Kahane's campaign for the Knesset, and was a prominent Kiryat Arba settlement official. The massacre, which was believed to have been aided by Sharon's collaborators within the Israeli Army, created the first Israeli-Palestinian crisis following the signing of the Oslo Accords.
Prime Minister Rabin moved harshly against the attempted destabilization. He denounced Goldstein and his cronies as an "errant weed" that "grew in a swamp whose murderous sources are found here, and across the sea." The Israeli government declared the JDL, and related settler sects, illegal.
But despite this ban, the sects continued to mobilize against the accords, often outrageously claiming that it was they who represented Judaism.
In the last week of March 1994, some 200 rabbis, led by Sharon's longtime crony, former Chief Rabbi Avraham Schapira, gathered in Kiryat Arba to issue a religious ruling to soldiers to disobey any military orders to dismantle the settlements. On March 31, Sharon and former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, another Sharon patron, organized a 10,000-person rally of the JDL and other sects, calling for soldiers to revolt. "If a commander orders a soldier to kill his mother, does he have to follow such an order?" Shamir raved. "Evacuating Jews from their homeland is like killing their parents."
Speaking from the same podium, Sharon declared that "today the Israeli government sold Hebron to the foreigners." While Sharon and Shamir ranted, the crowd chanted "Goldstein" and "Kahane." Kiryat Arba's JDL Mayor Zvi Katzover threatened, "We will resist in all possible ways the evacuation of settlements in Hebron." A JDL associate added, "Like a doctor who tries to cure the ills of a patients, Dr. Goldstein tried to cure the ills of his country."
In response to these developments, Rabin said on Israeli State radio: "It is inconceivable that we will turn the State of Israel into a banana republic." Sharon was slated to be the banana republic's petty potentate.
While Sharon, Shamir, and the rabbis were calling for rebellion, ADL National Chairman Abraham Foxman, a longtime Sharon crony, was attempting to rally American Jewry against Yitzhak Rabin's government, and against the Clinton administration for supporting the peace plan. In a statement to the Jerusalem Post on April 2, Foxman complained that Rabin was "seeking to restrain American Jewish opposition" to Clinton over his support of the Oslo Accords, and was thereby "undermining organized Jewry's clout."
A climate of hate
Over the coming months, a climate of unbridled hate against Rabin was building throughout Israel, at rallies organized by Likud bloc chairman Netanyahu and Sharon, which typically featured signboards depicting Rabin in Nazi uniform.
Speaking of these rallies in an NBC interview on Nov. 7, 1995, days after Rabin's murder, Rabin's widow, Leah Rabin, said: "There was a climate that allowed this to happen, a climate of enormous violence, talking violence, picketting violently. Every Friday afternoon here in our street there were the same people coming and saying, 'Murderer, traitor, traitor, murderer.' And the last Friday, I came home at 3:00, left my car, and there they were. They had big yelling and big shouting, and then they said, 'Wait. In another year, in another year we will kill you both on the Kings of Israel Square'that is where the [peace] rally took place [where Rabin was assassinated that day], because they knew about the rally that was going to be."
In October 1995, immediately prior to his assassination, and in the midst of this climate of hate, Rabin made his last visit to the United States, where he again came into sharp conflict with the ADL, and other Sharon patrons. "Late last month, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin lashed out at American Jews who lobby in Washington against the Israeli government's negotiating policy toward the Palestinians," the Oct. 12, 1995 issue of the Washington Jewish Week reported. "Rabin told members of Jewish organizations that American Jewish groups should not lobby against the peace process in Congress."
On Nov. 4, 1995, Rabin was shot dead by Yigal Amir, a member of Eyal, one of Sharon's settlers movements, who had frequently participated in Netanyahu's rallies against Rabin, and who lived in the Sharon terrorist sect headquarters of Kiryat Arba.